Employee mental wellness should be considered a priority by all businesses. With so much of the population experiencing symptoms of mental illness, it is likely a proportion of your workforce is living with these challenges. Not to mention that certain elements of operations can serve to trigger or exacerbate difficulties in this area.
When your company commits to implementing effective mental wellness protocols, everyone involved stands to benefit. Your workers gain from a supportive and healthy working culture. Your company can mitigate excessive absenteeism and turnover. Even your customers enjoy the advantages of interacting with engaged and productive employees.
So, how can your business best support employee mental wellness? Let’s take a look at some effective actions.
Flexibility has become a popular part of employment discussions as of late. It is often one of the most cited benefits workers are looking for and many workers are looking for remote or hybrid jobs that provide this kind of leeway. It’s also important to recognize how providing flexibility to workers can positively impact their mental wellness.
For those with family commitments, a more flexible working schedule can alleviate the stress they may feel from juggling their work and family lives. Indeed, by allowing remote working, you can reduce workers’ commuting time, allowing them to more effectively wind down in their personal hours. As such, it’s worth reviewing how you can incorporate more flexibility into your working practices.
One of the most significant influences on employee mental wellness is habitual self-care. This can’t just be the occasional yoga session or walk in the park. As an employer, you’ll find it mutually beneficial to encourage your workers to implement good practices both at work and in their personal time.
Ensure human resources (HR) and direct line managers talk to workers about this subject. Help your employees to understand which accessible self-care measures equate to healthy habits. This could include encouraging them to maintain good quality sleep, build positive relationships, and dedicate time to hobbies. Wherever possible, make sure your workers can incorporate these aspects into their working schedule. Provide spaces for them to meditate and offer healthy snacks in the break room.
Support their Development
Many of your employees will consider their role with you as more than just another job. Your company represents a vital part of their career plan. Unfortunately, if you aren’t proactive in helping your workers develop, this can be a source of anxiety and depression. Many workers find a lack of opportunity for growth or advancement to be a source of workplace stress.
It is, therefore, vital for employee mental wellness that your company supports worker development. This could be in the form of subsidizing their ongoing formal education. It may involve providing mentorship opportunities both within and outside of your organization. Importantly, your development program must seek to help all workers to grow.
It is an unfortunate fact that not everybody has access to the resources they need to maintain their mental wellness. This is often an affordability issue, although there are other contributing factors, such as people not having time to travel to therapy appointments or too few professionals in the local area. As an employer, one key way you can impact employee mental health is to help provide some of these resources.
At the very least, it’s important to ensure your health benefits program includes access to mental health care. It can also be valuable to arrange for subsidized counselling services. This could include telemedical therapy options that your employees can utilize in a private room on their lunch break or at home.
Create Healthy Surroundings
The workplace has the potential to positively or negatively influence employees depending on the physical and atmospheric elements of the space. As an employer, you have the ability to adjust the environment to ensure your workers have the surroundings that are most supportive of their psychological well-being. This requires a few relatively simple actions.
Firstly, reduce noise wherever possible. Excessive hustle and bustle can be a source of stress and many people with neuro-divergent traits can find this overwhelming. If you operate from a city, soundproof your windows. Provide dedicated quiet spaces away from constantly ringing phones or chatter.
It can also be useful to reduce jarring visual stimuli. Decorate using relatively neutral colours. Utilize soft lighting rather than harsh fluorescent lamps. This can influence a sense of calm in the workplace for your employees.
Workplace stigma continues to be a prevalent barrier to workers gaining the mental health resources and support they need. It is your ethical duty as a business leader to reduce this stigma. You must be committed to ensuring everyone feels safe to talk about their mental health without prejudice or discrimination.
This starts from the top. Leaders must show the way by openly talking about their mental health. It’s also important to give training to employees of all levels about the impact of mental health discrimination and how to recognize their own microaggressions. Indeed, your company must demonstrate a commitment to actively addressing examples of stigma as they arise.
Mental health literacy is a key component of maintaining psychological and emotional wellness. It’s difficult for your workers to take actions that bolster their well-being if they don’t recognize the symptoms or influencers of poor mental health. Your company can make a positive impact here by providing your workers with reliable sources of information in this area.
This could include bringing in external experts on mental health to provide talks on the subject. These don’t necessarily have to just be medical experts. Mental health charities often have programs in which they talk to businesses’ employees about building strong wellness actions. It can also be wise to place pamphlets on various areas of mental health in the breakroom.
Adopt More Open Dress Codes
It’s important not to overlook how closely clothing can be connected to mental wellness. Fashion choices can be a significant boost to confidence and self-esteem. Not to mention that for many people, what they wear can both reflect and influence their emotions. It also won’t be unusual for your workers to consider their style to be an extension of their authentic selves.
Wherever possible, ensure your dress codes don’t squash your workers’ ability to make choices about their appearance. Encourage them to be creative in their approach or to wear what makes them most comfortable. There may be occasions, such as client visits, in which a more strict code might need to be applied. However, you can support your workers’ mental health best by giving them some freedom here during day-to-day operations.
Empower Them to Exercise
Exercise is a vital tool for both physical and mental wellness. Physical activity can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also offer an outlet that can help people manage stress. It is, therefore, worthwhile finding ways to empower your employees to get regular exercise.
You may be able to partner with local gyms, sports facilities, or swimming pools to provide workers with subsidized memberships. If you have enough space, it might be practical to install exercise equipment and yoga mats in the workplace itself. Many businesses are encouraging colleagues to exercise together as part of a dedicated wellness program. Indeed, this can help strengthen employee bonds that further feed into positive mental health.
Insist on Time Off
It has become part of the working culture in many countries to encourage overworking practices. In some companies, pushing beyond scheduled hours is considered a minimum sign of commitment to the business. It’s certainly not unusual to hear stories of people that are hesitant to arrange for their earned paid time off as taking a vacation is frowned upon. These are all signs of a toxic workplace and are likely to lead to poor employee mental health, particularly burnout.
As an employer, you should recognize it is beneficial for everyone involved to encourage a healthy work-life balance. Commit to ensuring your employees aren’t put in a position where they’re regularly doing overtime. Be vigilant about making certain your workers take their paid time off to recharge. Make certain they take regular breaks throughout the day.
There will be times when your employees face mental health challenges. Unfortunately, this may well serve to disrupt your company’s operations to some extent. However, it’s important that you and other members of management always take an empathetic leadership approach to such situations.
Consider how difficult living with such psychological or emotional challenges is. Listen carefully to your workers’ experiences and respond as a fellow human being rather than just a business leader. It doesn’t help anyone to make your workers feel guilty about taking a mental health day or asking for additional accessibility resources. Indeed, you should be encouraging your employees to do these things as it mitigates the negative impact on both them and the business. Not to mention your workers are likely to be more positively engaged with your business in the long-term if they have leaders that act empathetically at times of difficulty.
When your company takes the time to bolster mental wellness at work, all of your stakeholders can benefit from positive outcomes. This doesn’t just rely on a single method of support, though. You must create a dedicated program that incorporates everything from solid resources to mental health literacy information. Even relatively small measures like an open dress code can make a difference. Many of these steps aren’t difficult to implement immediately, but they send a message that your company is committed to prioritizing your workers’ psychological and emotional welfare.